How to Drive and Measure User Experience on the IT Service Desk

User Experience on the IT Service Desk

IT service desk, and other lines of business service desk, teams use internally focused performance-based metrics more than many might think. These metrics are essential and remain relevant, but they don’t provide any insight into the user experience from IT service management (ITSM) or service management. To gain actual insight into user satisfaction, you need to change your metrics.

The question is: How do I efficiently change my metrics? Then, how do you best go about it? Please read on to find out more.

Living in the age of customer experience

The customer experience is vital to the outcomes of your service team. The word “experience” is critical. The quality of the user experience is paramount. When we look at our internal customers – our employees – their expectations are continually changing. For them, they want to stay in the flow, remain productive, and make meaningful progress in their work.

Customer experience is the sum of the employees’ perceptions of working in an organization, “perception” being most important. To understand the experience, service desk members must ask their users to define their experiences. Part of this journey is managing the emotional parts of the customer journey.

However, even if you meet user experience expectations, but somehow, the emotional experience goes south. Then, while the issue may have gotten resolved, this doesn’t mean the user is happy. Perceptions are not the same as results. So, even if the service desk meets all pre-defined success metrics, this doesn’t mean user satisfaction is excellent.

Taking the pulse of the user is vital to organizational success.

What is user experience?

The service desk delivers support to users, but they must measure the services provided and which are the most important to them.

When measuring the user experience, you may find that your services need improvement. For example, one organization I recently worked with let their customers ask them questions whenever they needed assistance. Thus, users found that the service desk remained open for users, who soon understood that their concerns were always valid; this only occurred because the service desk asked users how to support them best.

There are likely dozens of things that your department can address, but the team can’t handle everything at once. Start with what’s most important to the user so they can experience the best benefit for your effort.

You can achieve this in several ways. For example, consider focus groups to measure user experience. These are what you think they are: teams sitting down with a group of users to ask them about the services provided. You’re asking about specific goals and measuring outcomes. Even though these groups can be a good starting point if you’ve nothing in place and can be easy to implement, they can require a fair amount of trust otherwise these groups can turn into ranting sessions. Get through the negativity to regain confidence before diving into what you want out of these focus groups.

Periodic measurements and continuous measurements

Periodic measurement is examining your services regularly, through a survey, for example. Alternatively, continuous measurement is the use of a brief survey to ask for feedback from customers about the services they just received after every interaction. Periodic measurement only provides a general overview of aspects that apply to multiple services, such as how friendly the department is and how well the communication is. These assessments are a great place to start because they help provide a picture in terms of user experience.

Because periodic measurements can be pretty general, how you phrase your survey questions to users matters. “How do you rate our services?” will not suffice. You must dive into various aspects or themes of the service so that you can gauge authentic user experience.

There are usually five main themes that the customer thinks of when experiencing a service, according to the well-known research model SERVQUAL. These are:

  • The service desk’s level of reliability – to what extent do they stick to agreements? Are they dependable and accurate?
  • The level of assurance – how is the expertise and courtesy of the service desk analyst experienced? Moreover, do they convey trust and confidence?
  • The level of responsiveness – how quickly are services supplied?
  • Level of empathy – to what extent do I get the feeling that the service desk employees care and are they personalizing their approach toward me?
  • Tangibles – where can I find the physical objects I use? Are the services clear?

Theme examples

Here are some examples of actual user experience statements/questions I’ve used with customers to gauge these five themes. 


Agreements made are always honored by employees.
The service quality is the same no matter which employee is helping me out.


The employees are skilled enough and have sufficient knowledge to answer my questions.
The employees are always courteous in helping me.


My matters are always processed promptly.
I’m always kept updated about the status of my calls.


Employees can put themselves in my shoes; they understand my pain.
I always feel approached individually; employees are not following a script.


It’s clear to me which products and services the department can supply.
Verbal and written communication is proper and professional.

Now how do you approach this?

Let me share some tips that helped us achieve results of a 40 percent response rate:

Keep the research simple. Do not create a massive survey no one wants to fill out. This increases response rates.

Communicate your goal. Make it clear what you want to achieve and what’s in it for the user as a result. You want to provide the best service possible but need input to do that. The moment of measurement, the timing of the day, and the duration of the survey are critical. Send the emails when users have time to respond, and remember that incentives help.

Continuous measurement provides more regular detail about a specific service. In these cases, the user has just received a particular service – the move of a workstation, for example. Immediately afterward, ask them how the user experience was. This type of measurement can be service-specific or even operator specific. The interaction made at the point of a particular service experienced to gather near real-time results throughout the year to receive immediate feedback; accomplished by sending a short digital survey to the user immediately after the contact. These surveys are quick and simple to encourage the user to complete them. In this situation, the customer has just experienced the service, so they can easily remember what they did or didn’t like. Because of this, you can be specific with your survey, leading to some concrete feedback.

An excellent measurement for continuous measurement is the customer effort score. This measures the effort required by the customer to find a solution to their incident or issue. The customer effort score asks the question: How much effort did you experience accessing this service? You want the user experience to be as effortless and pain-free as possible.

Continuous measurement provides the most up-to-date overview of your performance and helps identify whether or not you’re on track to meet your department’s goals. This can turn into a satisfaction key performance indicator (KPI). Satisfaction KPIs are often used by organizations that are in control of their services – where services are defined in a service catalog, and they can measure the customer effort score in relation to each service and implement the necessary improvements.

The votes are in, what now?

Once the results are in, you must communicate these within your department. Give your team members credit when they’re doing well, and together – without judgment – attempt to identify areas needing improvement.

From here, as a team, come up with a plan and work together on it. Doing so encourages team building as your team feels involved and motivated to make the improvements. Try to see this as an exercise to gain valuable input and engagement from the user. If a user provides feedback, see this as a gift rather than a complaint.

The next step is to communicate with the user. This lets you make a great impression of your department, too, because doing so tells the user: We’re listening to you. We value what you have to say. Especially about user experience.

There’s no need to share all of the ins and outs required to address the concern. Provide users with enough information that they need in an easy-to-digest format. For bulk actions that affect multiple people or most of the organization, consider placing a poster by the coffee machine, for example, or sending an enterprise-wide communication.

The types of results shared may include updates on system outages or network updates, changes to interacting with the service desk, or even instructional information for managing a particular process, solution, or technology platform. Anyone requiring individual attention should be communicated with directly, in a non-public format, either through the service portal, electronic communication, or face-to-face.

Taking these steps lets the user feel valued and that their feedback is valued. Action must be taken immediately once a user reports an issue. Quick responses to user issues show that you can take immediate action when required in terms of user experience.

User experience takeaways

The importance of gaining insight into the user experience, by actively asking for it, can be tremendously helpful to your efforts. Your metrics can influence behavior within your service department. Striving for a better user experience goes hand-in-hand with taking emotional metrics into account, as well as actively discussing them with your team.

When defining metrics, first focus on the metrics that matter most for your organization. This requires investigations and surveys to identify them. Implement these metrics in a phased approach. You cannot do everything at once, and you want to do things the right way. Finally, be transparent about what you’re trying to achieve and let your users know. When users feel like their feedback matters, they’ll be much more willing to keep giving their feedback, which helps you improve the organization for everyone.

Ron van Haasteren
Ron van Haasteren
Global Culture Strategist at TopDesk

Ron van Haasteren is the international culture strategist for TOPdesk worldwide. As a passionate promotor, Ron strives to inspire service management professionals to focus on how a great company culture adds value, by engaging employees, and helping them deliver service excellence in return.

Ron’s also an expert on how to keep the company culture alive, and get the core values known by all employees. As TOPdesk’s go-to culture expert, he’s a valuable stakeholder in the story of the company, and an important player in the onboarding process of new employees by making sure the core values are known and understood.

Ron has over eight years of experience in service management, communication, company culture, and employee engagement. On these topics, Ron is a public speaker for many industry leading events in Europe.

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